How are you teaching science at home? Need suggestions! - Page 2 - Mothering Forums
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#31 of 40 Old 02-16-2013, 08:33 PM
 
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FWIW, I think that the most important things you can do to foster development of young scientists is to encourage curiosity and exploration, while giving them a vocabulary to understand and express what they are exploring.  I don't think it needs to be systematic, and although this thread is seeming like a blatant advert for BFSU,  I will say I also like it and am loosely using it. 

 

Also, may I suggest you not presume to know what and how a creationist discusses science with their children.  I think there are many different types of creationists out there - both young Earth and old Earth.  I am one of the latter and find it somewhat offensive to be considered ignorant, uninterested in teaching real science, and too afraid to not use a cirric, purely because I believe things were created by a higher power.  If you are interested in how a creationist approaches teaching the origins of the world, Googling can work well (or opening a thread for discussion), but when it is not your own perspective, throwing in presumptions weakens your other interesting arguments.

 

As far as repeated exposure vs. waiting until they are ready, I think there is truth to both sides, although I lean towards repeats being less necessary if the topic is brought to light when they are ready to understand.

 

I think that true discussion and supplying of a rich vocabulary enable for growth and greater understanding whenever they are ready for it.   I really think that if a person does not have a scientific background, if they support and foster curiosity and allow a child to explore tangibly (and with books and the computer and whatever tools end up being most helpful), they will not keep a child from becoming an amazing scientist.

 

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#32 of 40 Old 02-16-2013, 09:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
 

Anecdotally my experience with science learning has been similar to Fillyjonk's: when my kids are truly ready and interested in particular science learning, they get it and retain it at a first pass. They don't need repeated exposure. It makes sense to me that if concepts and information are introduced earlier, before the learner is truly ready and inspired by his own curiosity and drive, it will probably take several exposures before it's truly mastered.

 

To draw a silly parallel by way of illustration, what if we decided "walking lessons" should start at 6 months in babies because it's best to get an early start on this crucial gross-motor skill, and we instructed our child for a full 8 months before he was finally able to walk well, and we used that success as affirmation of the early-start approach. "Good thing we started early: it takes a lot of instruction and practice to learn to walk!"

 

Miranda

 

I'm not sure I can think of anything I've ever in my life truly mastered without repeated exposure.  I suppose there are individual facts that I've remembered after only hearing them once (though I expect I'm actually misremembering some of them.)  But I think it's safe to say that almost all the things I know and understand really well are things I've been exposed to over and over again.  It seems true for my kids, too.  It seems like it would have to be true for everyone.

 

A lot of the examples I gave of basic science knowledge were really simple - things like "the earth orbits the sun."  I'm not really claiming that most kids need to hear that particular fact over and over again before they'll get it.  But I do think there are some other basic facts that aren't quite so easy to grasp, or at least not to really, completely grasp.  For instance, a 6 year old kid might totally understand what you mean when you say that the sun appears to set because our part of the earth is turning away from it, but might find himself at other times picturing the sun moving over the earth and then sinking down behind it.  If you asked him, "Why does the sun appear to set?" he would remember the correct answer, but if he read a description of the sun crossing the sky, he might forget that that's not really what happens.  And if you asked him what's happening when the moon sets, he might or might not realize that it must be just the same thing that happens with the sun.  If you waited until the kid was 12 or so before you ever explained sunrise and sunset to him, chances are better that he'd fully grasp the concept right away.  But then he would have missed out on a lot of years of having that knowledge and being able to build on it.  The kid who first heard about the concept at 6 or younger might spend a lot more time not fully understanding, but he'd still probably end up reaching full understanding before the kid who was introduced to it much later.

 

I wonder if teaching science is more like teaching music than like teaching walking.  Your kids started learning to play the violin when they were very young, right?  I'm not a music expert, but I'm guessing that it takes longer to teach a 4 year old some of the basics of violin playing than it would to teach them to a teenager.  But that doesn't mean the 4 year old is too young and it would be better to hold off on music instruction until the teenage years, does it?  And it isn't true, is it, that kids who start at 4 end up no better at playing the violin than kids who start as teenagers?  There must be some reason you felt it would be valuable for your kids to start learning music so young.  How is that different from learning science?  And how would you say learning to play an instrument fits in with what you're saying about repeated exposure not being necessary for mastery as long as kids are ready and interested?  It doesn't seem to fit in at all.  Is it different because playing an instrument is more of a physical than a mental skill?  (I'm not asking these questions in an argumentative way.  I'm really just curious about your thoughts.)

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#33 of 40 Old 02-16-2013, 09:47 PM
 
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Your kids started learning to play the violin when they were very young, right?  I'm not a music expert, but I'm guessing that it takes longer to teach a 4 year old some of the basics of violin playing than it would to teach them to a teenager.  But that doesn't mean the 4 year old is too young and it would be better to hold off on music instruction until the teenage years, does it?  And it isn't true, is it, that kids who start at 4 end up no better at playing the violin than kids who start as teenagers?  There must be some reason you felt it would be valuable for your kids to start learning music so young.  How is that different from learning science?  And how would you say learning to play an instrument fits in with what you're saying about repeated exposure not being necessary for mastery as long as kids are ready and interested?  It doesn't seem to fit in at all.  Is it different because playing an instrument is more of a physical than a mental skill?  (I'm not asking these questions in an argumentative way.  I'm really just curious about your thoughts.)

 

String instrument music is very different because there's such a huge motor and emotive/creative component that needs to be learned and integrated with the intellectual. Kids who start as tweens or teens rarely get past the muscular tension and physical awkwardness that is a hallmark of the "late beginner," an awkwardness that comes from over-intellectualizing the tasks. The intuitive ease with the motor tasks comes fairly naturally to most kids who start before age 8 or 10. Also music isn't simply conceptual or intellectual. There are powerful emotional / creative overlays, plus all the intellectual stuff, plus the fine and gross motor learning that needs to be chunked down and then integrated and sped up. Music is an artistic discipline that requires real-time execution of many-faceted tasks involving disparate areas of the brain ... and that needs repetition for automaticity and fluidity. 

 

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#34 of 40 Old 02-17-2013, 04:45 PM
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We've done a bit of everything.  For curriculums we have enjoyed:

REAL Science Odyssey -- I really like this program because it is very hands-on and uses lots of library books

Ellen McHenry's Elements-- fun way to introduce the periodic table

The Middle School Chemistry from the American Chemical Society -- this is free (online) and covers chemistry at an introductory level.  Lots of experiments/demonstrations too.  This one also have "workbook" style pages for those that like that and it is also set up to be used easily with a small group/coop or classroom.  

 

Beyond curriculum, we have enjoyed:

Gardening

Museums

Rockets

Random experiments simply because the mood/interest strikes us

Lots of dissection (kits from Home Science Tools)

Nature walks, nature guide books, etc.

Mechanical type projects --not always strictly "science", but great for basic physics exploration

 

I don't think it is necessary to use a science program or curriculum.  My kids LOVE science though and can't get enough of it.  I don't have it all together (all the time) and can't just come up with more for them.  So I use the curriculums as a guide or to fill in gaps or when I just need it planned for me. 

 

We have also used BFSU, but I didn't like needing to do so much prep and I also used one more science program that seemed more schooly.  We didn't care for it as much as everything else and haven't ever gone back to it.  

 

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#35 of 40 Old 02-17-2013, 07:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

String instrument music is very different because there's such a huge motor and emotive/creative component that needs to be learned and integrated with the intellectual. Kids who start as tweens or teens rarely get past the muscular tension and physical awkwardness that is a hallmark of the "late beginner," an awkwardness that comes from over-intellectualizing the tasks. The intuitive ease with the motor tasks comes fairly naturally to most kids who start before age 8 or 10. Also music isn't simply conceptual or intellectual. There are powerful emotional / creative overlays, plus all the intellectual stuff, plus the fine and gross motor learning that needs to be chunked down and then integrated and sped up. Music is an artistic discipline that requires real-time execution of many-faceted tasks involving disparate areas of the brain ... and that needs repetition for automaticity and fluidity. 


Miranda


I'll have to research this a bit. Ten years, or so, ago, I read that it was better to wait, because late beginners quickly caught up, but early beginners frequently burned out.
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#36 of 40 Old 02-17-2013, 08:02 PM
 
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I recommend 3 terrific picture books by Molly Bang (2 of them co-authored by Penny Chisholm): My Light, Living Sunlight, and Ocean Sunlight.  They're short and easy to understand, but they cover a lot of really important ideas.  You could plan a whole year's science curriculum around them.  They're simple and entertaining enough to read to a kindergartener (well, some kindergarteners, anyway), but most adults could probably learn something new from them.

 

The Magic School Bus books are good, too.  You want to look for the originals by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen, not the ones based on the TV show.  (The TV-show-based ones aren't totally worthless, but they're not nearly as good as the original books.)

 

We also like Zoobooks magazine.

 

The natural world has been our best resource.  Observing insects is a great thing to get into, because insects are everywhere.  There are a variety of citizen science projects involving insects: for instance, Monarch Watch, the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, and the Lost Ladybug Project.)  My daughter has learned a tremendous amount from collecting and raising caterpillars. (And so have I.  Did you know most caterpillars grow into moths, not butterflies?  Did you know female caterpillars tend to grow larger than males?  Did you know there are wingless moths?)  I highly recommend looking for your own caterpillars outside rather than ordering a butterfly raising kit.  If you want to identify them, this field guide is excellent.  If you want a free online resource, this website is very helpful for identifying moth caterpillars. (Almost all the caterpillars you find will be moth larvae.)

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#37 of 40 Old 02-17-2013, 08:47 PM
 
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I should have mentioned before - the Let's Read and Find Out series has been a great resource in our household.  Lots of fun books.

 

http://www.rainbowresource.com/prodlist.php?1=1&subject=11&category=2871

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#38 of 40 Old 02-18-2013, 07:07 PM
 
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We have been homeschooling for 4 years now, and have tried a variety of things for my kids.  Our favorites have been anything about astronomy, messy kitchen experiments (think volcanoes!), and hatching butterflies and ladybugs.  My older children are doing textbook-type science that is recommended by the online school we use, but they are a little bored.  We will be trying a 2 day lab, where they get to do a whole year's worth of lab experiments in one weekend, with a group of other homeschoolers their age.  I believe it is run by Landry Academy, owned by a homeschool dad and science teacher. 

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#39 of 40 Old 02-19-2013, 03:48 PM
 
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We adore the Apologia science textbook series. I have an extremely science minded 9th grader and Apologia's Biology course was right up his alley- very thorough, not dumbed down, challenging, and written in such an attention grabbing way. I've started my 1st grader in the Astronomy book this year and it is his favorite school subject. I plan to use them all the way through high school with my littles.

 

We also read a large number of books from the library, read a large variety of books in general, and live on a farm. There is a lot of food growing, animal breeding and butchering, death, birth, dirt and manure going on here at all times. I think those qualify as science at times. For example, we didn't need to purchase the dissection kit during that module of the biology course, because my son has witnessed our butchering of a variety of animals and watched the chickens run off with individual organs in their beaks to munch on. He can recognize whether a hen is running past with a liver or a trachea dangling from her mouth. That counts, right?

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#40 of 40 Old 02-19-2013, 06:31 PM
 
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Had to give a big thanks for helping me find BFSU -- I've tried several different science curriculums and all seemed so disjointed and breezy. Nothing has felt solid and interesting, this one is going straight into my cart.

We do The Magic Schoolbus just for the pure fun factor of them, but they really kind of drive me nuts with all the setup and how shallow the experiments are.
This year I tried R.E.A.L. science which is nice in theory and perhaps it could be better when my first grader is older and can read/write more than he can now.

 


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